Spirited Away, the beloved Oscar-winning animated film by renowned Japanese animator and director Hayao Miyazaki, is set to debut on stage in 2022 according to Japanese film, theater production and distribution company Toho Co.
The stage adaptation will be helmed by no less than Tony- and Olivier-winning English director John Caird, who also took the reins in Les Miserablés and The Life of Nicholas Nickleby.
Japanese actresses Mone Kamishiraishi and Kanna Hashimoto will play the protagonist Chihiro in the stage adaptation.
Spirited Away (Sen to Chihiro Kamikakushi) is about the adventures of Chihiro, a 10-year-old girl who was transported into the world of gods and spirits with her parents, who were turned into pigs by a witch named Yubaba. Chihiro was forced to work at a bathhouse to survive the strange land and eventually return to the human world.
Caird, a longtime admirer of Spirited Away, said in a statement, “I have, for many years now, regarded Hayao Miyazaki as one of the pre-eminent geniuses of world cinema and the greatest ever proponent of anime form.”
He added, “I share a belief in all the most dominant themes of Miyazaki’s work, themes that are at the core of the Sen to Chihiro world—care for the environment, reverence for nature, a belief in the force of the good spirits within us and the empowerment of young women and men to change the world for the better.”
Meanwhile, Studio Ghibli’s Toshio Suzuki said, “We, Hayao and I, both liked John’s vision. He is a person we can trust. I am looking forward to seeing Chihiro grow on stage under his direction. I could tell how much he adores this story from his delighted face when I gave him a No-Face (a dark spirit character) piggy bank.”
According to Kyodo News, Spirited Away will be staged next year at Toho’s Imperial Theatre in Tokyo from February to March. The production is also scheduled to perform in Osaka, Fukuoka, Sapporo and Nagoya between April and July. Toho Co. also hopes for the production to see performances in Asia and Europe.
Spirited Away won an Oscar for Best Animated Feature Film in 2003. It also stayed at No. 1 spot as the highest grossing film in Japanese box-office history until December 2020, with a lifetime gross sales of at least 30 billion yen (over P13 billion).
Banner and thumbnail photos from Studio Ghibli